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ON WINE

Wines for the Bird : Champagne and Zinfandel Are Perfect Complements to the Thanksgiving Turkey

November 22, 1987|ROBERT LAWRENCE BALZER

LET'S DISPOSE AT once of that ever arising question about which wine goes best with turkey by saying, "Any wine that pleases you." If you prefer the moist dark meat, chances are it will make a very happy marriage with Zinfandel, while for those preferring juicy slices of white breast meat, bubbly may be best. If you're among the majority who can't resist that gravy ladled over the dressing, champagne's carbon-dioxide sparkle has a way of cutting through the fat.

A relative newcomer to the California champagne lists, John Scharffenberger, who grew up in Palos Verdes' Rolling Hills, is now a step or two ahead of Roederer in pioneering the Anderson Valley as a leading sparkling-wine region in Mendocino County. The Scharffenberger 1984 Mendocino County Brut ($13.50) is a creamy delight. The secret behind that middle-body creaminess is a partial malolactic fermentation of some of the wines in the cuvee , as practiced by the French almost universally for Champagne, to ameliorate the biting acidity. You'll enjoy it all the way through the Thanksgiving feast.

Rodney Strong's 1980 Russian River Valley Zinfandel, from the River West Vineyard, is from old vines planted in the last century. The maturity of this rare prize ($10) places it in the category of splendid, deep, rich clarets of the Chateau Latour order. It can carry over into the cheese course, and while the conversation mellows around the feasting table, the Zinfandel will grow ever more fragrant in the glass.

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